The owl files – Chapter 4: Blowing hot and cold

13 June 2023

Blowing hot and cold

For those of you who are regular followers of these updates, you will know of the strange behaviour of the female during the last two breeding seasons. Her actions were so uncharacteristic – and so counter-productive, that I had in fact speculated that she may have ‘hormonal syncing’ issues – this after noticing that she had not moulted out her belly feathers to create a brood patch when she moved into the nest last season.

For the past few weeks, the male has been calling each evening – usually with little or no response from the female. He has then headed for the nest, entered, and then started hooting softly, pirouetting with his head down towards the centre of the box and his wings and tail pointing up at a 45-degree angle. The female has consistently failed to respond to these enticements however and during the past week, the male seems to have given up. He now either heads off into the park or calls a few times from just outside the nest box .  .  .  and then flies off. It is still not clear what the problem is, but last year the female had been sitting on eggs for over a week by this time!

By Geoff Lockwood